Adem Aman Shibu
IGAD: East-Africa Regional Integration in Light of SDG
Globally, it’s a joint entity to establish an organization that relies on its own aims, target, mission, and vision. In this context, this can work for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in East African regional member States as well. Therefore, IGAD is referred to as the acronym of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) of East Africa regional integration. Accordingly, since 1987 the strategic framework plan of IGAD has focused on Peace, prosperity, and regional integration. The IGAD is led by the chief executive officer of the organization and acts as its bona fide spokesman. The current Executive Secretary of the organization is Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu originally from Ethiopia and the sixth since the organization was founded in 1986.
East Africa region has been commonly well-known for its natural disaster or drought, poverty, and internal and external conflict across the globe, especially in media outlets. The IGAD regional organization has been established since 1986. The areas of theme and pillars or priorities of the organization are crucial and also sound great. Accordingly, the main aims of IGAD are associated with promoting the socio-economic program cooperation and regional integration, agricultural-based investment as well as enhancing an enabling environment for economic development and growth in the regions of the entire states. In addition, it is focused on harmonizing policies and initiative programs regard to infrastructure, and social-oriented activities. And also, IGAD is working on implementing projects based on food security and sustainability, peace and security, and economic stability in the region that intends for sustainable development. So far, in order to meet the target of an organization the secretariat consists of six responsible divisions as follows: (i) agriculture and environment; (ii) economic cooperation; (iii) health and social development; (iv) peace and security, (v) planning, coordination and partnership; and (vi) administration and finance.
However, even though it has a sound great strategic framework for food security and sustainability as well as peace and security, the region is still in great turmoil situation overall the period. Therefore, only having such good strategic policies for the Regional States' integration plan is not enough unless it can be more realistic in the implementation and changing into actions such wonderful strategy on the ground in line with the regional societal benefits.
To do so, identifying the reason behind regional droughts and conflicts associated with natural disasters or man-made problems is very important respectively. Consequently, analyzing the real cause of conflict, drought, and food insecurity issues well before implementing the utmost solutions suggested accordingly. This is helpful to filter political cause or elite impact, particularly in public or private sectors to provide and serve for seek of inter-IGAD regional integration as well as for entire Africa.
IGAD History and Activity
The IGAD region consists of eight-members States of East African Countries such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, and Somalia since 1986 respectively, and also Eritrea in 1993 and South Sudan since 2003. The thematic focus areas of organizations are divided into four categories including “peace and security, agriculture and environment, economic development, and social well-being.”
The IGAD, through the periods, organizes various events in order to encourage, increase, improve, and support regional states' livelihood. Only in November and December 2022 months, have more than 12 events been held by the organization on various issues in different places of the Members States. For instance, the national policy consultants towards digital health, IGAD trade counselors based in Embassies in ECOWAS and ECCAS region, information system expert programs related to Ministries of health in the regions, remittances project-based events, and so on in November 2022. Similarly, in December 2022 various events like (i) the special meeting on durable solutions for Somali refugees and reintegration in line with the quality of education; (ii) the summit of Kampala declaration on jobs, livelihoods, and self-reliance; (iii) the Regional Trade Policy between 2022- 2026 of IGAD; and (iv) the inauguration of two days workshop events in Ethiopia, Bahir Dar city to support the National Blue Economy Strategy associated with Lake Tana on December are few of them. Therefore, such kinds of programs are useful to transfer good experiences between the Member States and transform the region as well.
The pros and cons of the socio-economic-political relationships stretch to IGAD and have tied the region States together. Therefore, the IGAD hub enhances the well-being of communities' livelihoods of the region, especially those who are sharing similar socio-cultural destinies at backgrounds. So far the organization mostly covers a 5.2M km2 area with a total population of 261.2m people served in the entire eight Member States and it is also estimated in producing a GDP of about US Dollars of 313.8 Billion.
IGAD Challenges, Limits, and Opportunities
It is understandable that East African geopolitical and regional ecosystem are faced a lot of turmoil for a century and continues nowadays. And also, it is not easy to cope with the whole socio-economic-political issues of the region in a single organization. However, on the other hand, there have been doubts regards to IGAD strategic frameworks in the regional integration in the light of sustainable development goals (SDGs) due to having little initiative concerning climate, technology, innovation, drought, and green energy resilience project. In other saying, it does not have a clear strategic framework associated with the SDGs programs to support the Member States, particularly to attain the target of SDGs in 2030. IGAD website and some report evaluations of the organization's thematic area, as well as priority pillars, are good, but they reveal that they should not cover and be discussed well overall SDGs yet. Based on overviews of the organization's website, reports, and handbook SDGs assumed or included were listed as follows SDG2, SDG3, SDG4, SDG8, SDG9, SDG16, and SDG17, whereas the rest are not mentioned on the organization's strategic framework yet.
To attain a strong integrated member States vision, it is recommended that IGAD should touch all 17 SDG programs, to realize its regional welfare, economic growth, and stability. It is worth mentioning a few missed SDGs; climate action, sustainable cities, and communities, reducing inequalities, affordable and clean energy, and clean water and sanitation are crucial for regional economic development and prosperity.
Consequently, there are great opportunities to set a goal for regional problems and solutions that are tied to global- standards and indicators, performance evaluation criteria, and well-designed methods.
According to, the IGAD secretariat, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, opinions the organization has shown great progress in the past few decades relying on its vision of African economic integration that was settled by the continent’s leaders, particularly IGAD regional trade policy and other economic issues as well. Nowadays, its regional trade policy was also signed by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA). The AfCTA, commonly which consists of 54 countries, whereas currently, 40 countries have been ratified similarly from the IGAD region Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda have joined the AfCFTA and Somalia is only waiting for parliamentary approval to join. In addition, these agreements assist and facilitate customs administration as well as trade facilities, special for cross-border trade activities, which are critical in the context of intra-IGAD trade. Thus Regional Trade Policy also emphasizes sustainable development by covering cross-cutting issues such as trade, gender, and environment. However, the sustainable development goals agenda would not be identified and well-designed in the IGAD strategy framework.
Conclusions and Remarks
The IGAD strategic policy between 2021-2025, which is relying on the IGAD vision of 2050 has not mentioned SDGs, particularly to meet the targets of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in 2030 in regional member states. Though the settled thematic pillars and priority of IGAD to peace and security as well as preventing disasters related to food security and sustainability of the region, reveals still the region does not yet have significant progress. Similarly, the socioeconomic development of the IGAD region has been not satisfactory and lagged worldwide.
On the other side, there is no regional strategy report or plan displayed relying on green energy, innovation and entrepreneurship, urbanization issues, and technology-based activities, particularly cybersecurity as well as macroeconomic data management for the entire region as well. Mainly, the events and programs that are primarily organized depend on the case-oriented to prevent short-term problems for time being in the regions. Thus, most of the activities undertaken by the IGAD were attached to short-term and middle-term based problem-solving, not yet long-term solution oriented. So far IGAD should be focused also on long-term strategy, plans, and policies, special in line with global trends programs such as SDG promptly.